Since 2017 Tika the dalmatian has walked and sniffed almost every corner in London, from the posh neighbourhood of Chelsea to busy Trafalgar Square to even historic Buckingham Palace. But life wasn’t always crumpets and afternoon tea for this pup.
Back in 2015, Tika was one of 57 animals seized in a BC SPCA animal cruelty investigation that involved 35 dogs, 16 horses, and six cats.
Charly Jarrett, BC SPCA’s Digital Giving Specialist, describes the seizure in Surrey as a puppy mill situation. “They were cross-breeding dalmatians with beagles and living in horrific conditions. The dogs were covered in urine burns and matted feces.”
The animals seized were kept in total isolation for a number of weeks so they could be treated for various parasites, including ringworm.
Jarrett remembers Tika as “incredibly fearful.”
“Because the dogs were never fed proper food, she also required extensive dental work. [Tika] was probably one of the dogs that was better off physically, she was very much affected mentally.”
However because she wasn’t as dependent on her siblings as the other dogs, Tika was able to be adopted out as a single to her pet guardian, Stephanie Goldberg.
Goldberg says she fell in love with Tika the moment she saw her on the BC SPCA adoption website, but because she never had a special needs dog before, “I had a million-and-one questions about training and behaviour before I could reasonably consider whether I might be up to the task of caring for her. The staff at the BCSPCA were abundantly helpful in answering all my questions and guiding me through the adoption process.” While training Tika was ultimately a “breeze,” says Goldberg, it wasn’t without its challenges.
“Tika was a very nervous little pup when I first got her,” she recalls. “She received excellent foster care but still had a long way to go.”
Stairs were a struggle for her, and she was confused about the purpose of a dog bed.
“I’d gotten her a dog bed, but at first she just sat beside it. I don’t think she knew it was for her,” says Goldberg. “I kept putting treats in it and she’d crane her neck over the edge, grab the treats, and take them away to eat.”
While Tika is now a pro at going up and down the stairs, Goldberg remembers that initially Tika refused to use the stairs in the home for a number of weeks. “I think the concept of stairs was completely foreign to her,” says Goldberg. “She’d get really excited when I came down in the mornings as if to say ‘Yay! You came back!’ Until one day in a rush of excitement she followed me upstairs. When she got to the top she looked really happy and confused and ran back and forth down the hallway checking it out.”
Walks were also a challenge because “Tika was very scared of just about everything,” remembers Goldberg. “For a while her best walks were actually around midnight when it was dark and quiet.” Gradually, Tika began to enjoy her walks in Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver, and now, according to her pet guardian, “she manages loose leash walks in busy parts of London! I’m so proud of her.”
Goldberg and Tika moved to London in 2017, two years after her adoption. London life has been good for the eleven-year-old dog. “She has made a ton of friends here (four and two legged). London is actually incredibly dog friendly, and many pubs and restaurants have dog bowls and treats for any dogs who come in. Tika has become a big fan of pubs.”
Goldberg and Tika also belong to a dog social club here in London, which she says has been great for her furry friend. “She’s gotten to know and build up familiarity with a pack of dogs and we do all kinds of things together like go on trips to the beach, go to different restaurants, and go for walks together.”
Ultimately, what started as a tragic story has transformed into a happy, almost fairytale ending for Tika, which some might say is fit for a British queen.
“Tika has absolutely enriched my life, no question about it,” says Goldberg. “The experience of caring for a dog with special needs, helping her relax and gain confidence and watching her progress and grow has been amazing. She’s been the calmest, chillest dog I’ve ever known.”
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